House OKs Shea bill on release of driving record abstracts

The state House passed legislation Thursday that would allow judges to release certified driving abstracts (comprehensive driving records) directly to persons who have cases pending before their courts. Current law restricts the distribution and use of abstracts,  and persons who want a copy must request one through the Department of Licensing (DOL) and pay a fee of $10.

The prime sponsor of the measure (EHB 1251) is Rep. Matt Shea, R-Mead, who said the bill would allow a defendant whose license is suspended to obtain his or her driving record from the court, and to more quickly resolve unpaid tickets.

“Judges said it would help them deal more efficiently with defendants who are trying to figure out how to get their driving privileges back,” Shea explained. “The bill would allow the court to give a copy of the record directly to a defendant, and eliminate the extra step of obtaining the document through the DOL. Defendants would then be able to see in which courts they have unpaid tickets, making it easier for them to settle those matters and get their licenses reinstated.”

The DOL maintains a driving record of every licensed driver in Washington. A copy of the file is called an abstract, and includes a sequential account of a person’s driving history, including:

  • A list of accidents in which the person was driving, and whether the accident resulted in a fatality;
  • Convictions, forfeitures of bail, or findings that an infraction was committed based upon a violation of any motor vehicle law;
  • The status of a person’s driving privilege; and
  • Any reports of failure to appear in response to a traffic citation, or failure to respond to a notice of an infraction.

The House passed the measure 95-2.

For Shea, a freshman lawmaker, it was the first bill of his legislative career to win House approval, and he received the traditional round of applause afterward from House colleagues.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration

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Washington State House Republican Communications